Here are the five most intriguing players on the offensive side of the ball for Atlanta.
There has been a clear difference between Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder when he plays at home versus when he’s on the road. Using metrics like Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt (ANYA), Ridder at home has an efficiency of 5.94 versus 4.24 on the road. Part of that lower efficiency on the road is due to Ridder being sacked at nearly three times the rate as he is at home. And while the bulk of his interceptions have come in home games, all of his fumbles lost have come on the road.
This upcoming Jets matchup is one of four that the Falcons have on the road to close out the 2023 season. If the Falcons hope to finish this season strong with a playoff push, Ridder has to overcome his road woes. It’ll start on Sunday against a Jets defense known for creating turnovers and pressuring the quarterback, two of the issues Ridder struggles with the most when away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Falcons wideout Drake London is Ridder’s preferred target, but that could be tested against a vaunted Jets secondary. The presence of cornerback Sauce Gardner on one side of the field means that the Falcons must be smart about how they deploy London. But the other side features D.J. Reed, who is also having a very productive year.
It won’t be easy for London to win consistently on the outside, but if he can, it’ll show that he has reached a new level as a go-to threat in the Falcons offense.
Rookie running back Bijan Robinson also has a chance to be a difference-maker in this matchup. His dynamism both as a runner and a receiver is one of a few favorable matchups the Falcons have going up against a tough Jets defense. That is due to the Jets ranking third according to Pro Football Reference in missed tackles this season.
Robinson’s ability to make defenders miss in the open field is an asset. Not to mention the concerns of the Jets pass rush forcing Ridder to get the ball out quickly, which could lead to a larger-than-normal amount of check-down passes to running backs. Robinson is the most likely recipient of those passes, given his presence on passing downs.
Speaking of the Jets pass rush, Falcons right tackle Kaleb McGary will also face one of the biggest challenges come Sunday when he lines up across from Bryce Huff. McGary has struggled against speedier rushers throughout his career, and that’s a style of play that Huff specializes in.
However, McGary is coming off a solid performance against Saints defensive end Cam Jordan. He needs to prove he can have another one against Huff for the Falcons to be successful on offense today.
Like McGary, rookie left guard Matthew Bergeron faces a tough challenge going up against the Jets defensive front. He’ll be battling defensive tackle Quinnen Williams for most of the day. Bergeron is coming off a good performance against the Saints, his best of the year so far.
Does this mean he’s turned a corner as a blocker after a modest start to his NFL career? That answer may depend on how he handles Williams, one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles.
Are there any other Falcons offensive players that intrigue you? Or are there some intriguing matchups that feature defensive players against this Jets offense?